Update: Basore Family Farms has had to close their Blueberry U-Pick early for the season.
According to a note posted on their website, “Due to damage from Sunday’s storm, the quality of our berries no longer meets our standards and we must close for the season.”
The site goes on to say, “We are sad to announce an early end to our blueberry u-pick regular season. Heavy rain and strong winds damaged our fruit; it no longer meets our quality standards. We’ve loved hosting you and thank you for your support. Looking forward to next spring!”
Earlier post: As a child running wild in the New England summer, blueberry picking was a sign of the season, a simple activity that kept us kids busy for hours.
My grandparents’ neighbors on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire had beautiful blueberry bushes that would get heavy with fresh wild blueberries. Our neighbors’ granddaughter and I would pick them by the handful and spoil our dinners, much to my grandmother’s chagrin. (My grandfather didn’t mind as much; he would laugh at our blueberry-stained lips.)
I’ve wanted my son Casey to have that experience, but it can be difficult to find a pick-your-own blueberry farm in Florida. You’re more likely to find strawberries. Since Casey was a baby, I’ve read him “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey, preparing him for the day he might be able to drop his own blueberries into a pail and hear that satisfying KU-PLUNK.
This past weekend, my husband and I finally got to take Casey blueberry picking, while supporting a local family farm.
Basore Family Farms is at 18230 70th St. N, Loxahatchee. Their Blueberry U-Pick is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday-Sunday for the next two weekends.
In addition to pick-your-own blueberries for $7 a pound, the farm sells fresh sweet corn and watermelons from the Glades, along with local honey from the McCoy’s — IYKYK — and, when I was there last weekend, cookies.
The farm is open to all ages, and there was a wide range there Saturday, everyone from older folks to tiny babies. A signed waiver is required to pick blueberries, and no animals are allowed, including service animals. (Remember — it’s an actual working farm.)
You can go to www.basorefamilyfarms.com for more info.
Stephen and Krista Basore live in Wellington with their three children, ages 7, 9 and 12. Stephen works in his family’s business: TKM Bengard Farms, the largest lettuce grower east of the Mississippi River, which is based in Belle Glade.
The farm started doing pick-your-own blueberries in the spring and a pumpkin patch in the fall a few years ago, after their blueberry farm “really took off” during the pandemic, said Krista, who is a former teacher and consultant, and past executive director of Leadership Palm Beach County.
With their shared backgrounds in community leadership and education, Stephen and Krista wanted to create a space where people could learn more about their community by learning more about their food source.
“One of the things we always said is that people should walk away with more than just their fruit,” Krista said.
There aren’t many other blueberry growers in Florida, and Basore Family Farms may be the only one this far south, Stephen said.
“There’s a lot of challenges to it,” he said. “It’s typically a cold-weather crop and doesn’t necessarily do well in the heat. But they’ve been developing newer types of varieties lately that can grow in the South Florida weather.”
Stephen has been working with blueberries for about six years, he said. Originally, they tried planting the blueberries right in the soil, but the pH was too high, and the plants wouldn’t absorb any nutrients.
“So we basically had to kind of trick the plants, so we grow them in pots, and that way we’re able to manipulate the soil to a way that it’s conducive to growing,” Stephen said, adding, “As long as we do everything right, it’s a lot of precision agriculture, and it’s challenging, but they’ll do well as long as we keep everything correct.”
During the fall pumpkin patch, the Basores invite research scientists to give presentations about everything from the bugs in the ground that help plants grow, to why we celebrate the pumpkin harvest when pumpkins aren’t harvested in Florida in the fall. (The answer to the latter: Because it’s the beginning of the growing season for many of Florida’s crops.)
“We talk about dirt, we talk about seeds, we talk about pests, we talk about all the thing going on in Florida related to what we do,” she said.
The blueberry and pumpkin seasons are perfect bookends to the lettuce season, keeping Stephen busy year-round, he said.
Tours for large groups can be booked in advance. For a recent visit from an elementary school class on a field trip, the Basores discussed how they grow blueberries, and then also invited a Master Gardener from Mount’s Botanical Garden to speak about sunflowers and how they grow.
“We want people to walk away with a deeper connection and understanding of where your food comes from and where it grows,” Krista said.
The response to the pick-your-own blueberries farm has been overwhelmingly positive, she said. People are excited to come out, whether they are looking for a quiet morning or afternoon picking blueberries or an educational experience.
“I like that we’re meeting a need that we’re hearing more and more about,” she said.
It’s an experience I was so happy to finally share with my son — who loved it just as much as I hoped he would. He even got his little Bingo toy in on the fun, and she and Casey gently picked several blueberries before Casey decided it would be more fun to run back and forth along the aisle, and then proclaimed, “I’m done picking blueberries.” OK, kid.
Basore Family Farms in Loxahatchee provides a much-needed bit of spring feeling while also providing an educational experience for those looking to learn more about where our food comes from.
And it provides a great opportunity for parents like me to share my traditions with our next generation of blueberry lovers.
Blueberry picking tips
- Look for dark blue berries. Don’t pick the flower buds or fruit that is green.
- Don’t pick up or eat the berries that are on the ground.
- Wear sunscreen and a hat.
- Bring water.
- You can bring your own pail, or they have them there.
- Don’t forget to take a photo with the big blueberries!
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